Let’s take a ride in the way back machine—all the way back to 2002. I would have been smack in the middle of college and had been expanding my music palate to include large doses of The Beatles, Coldplay, Billy Joel, Linkin Park, U2, and many others. Suffice to say, Having been raised pretty exclusively on CCM my mind was being blown regularly. Anyway, that’ll be a post for another time, but today I’d like to key in on the Christian albums from 2002—20 of them in fact. So strap in, and prepare for a heavy dose of nostalgia!

If I had been making Top 10 or 20 albums in 2002 this is what it likely would have looked like. I’ll also make a Spotify playlist of a few tracks from each that I think are worth a listen if you’d like to take a trip down memory lane or go back in time on the jukebox. Begin…

20. Pax217Engage

Rap rock with reggae-infusion. Engage came pretty close to matching their debut in terms of quality and repeat listens for me. “Tonight” “PSA” the title track and “What is Love” are my favorites.

19. Poor Old LuThe Waiting Room

Highly regarded Alternative bands swan song. Dashes of psychedelia, grunge and funk in the mix.

18. Sara GrovesAll Right Here

Excellent introspective singer/songwriter delivers another solid set of songs to let work into your spirit.

17. The Benjamin GateContact

I’d call this a hybrid of electronic pop and rock with terrific lead vocals from Adrienne Liesching. Several killer tunes on here including “This is Not” “Do What You Say” and a cover of “Overkill.”

16. SouljahzThe Fault is History

Hip/hop, r&b, pop fusion with male/female trade off vocals and parts. Pretty excellent for its time. “Let Go” is my jam.

15. Royal RuckusSelf-Titled

Silly and fun, Royal Ruckus fits in with the tongue-and-cheek style of John Reuben. “Latte Show, Latte Show” is my favorite but there are several Beastie Boys inspired tracks worth a listen if you missed these guys at the time. “Next Best Thing” and “Wink & A Nudge” are two other favorites.

14. Everyday SundayStand Up

Melodic pop/rock with “Mess With Your Mind” “Stand Up” “Hanging on” and “Live For You Tonight” getting most play for me back in the day.

13. Dietrich HaddonLost & Found

A go-to for me when I wanna sing loud, Lost & Found is a great r&b/worship/hip-hop influenced album to jam in the car. Haddon can sing! “Stand Still” and the “Joy of the Lord” are the two I return to most. “Lost & Found (Take II) makes the list of songs I try to let rip in the car along with a few Brian McKnight, Boyz II Men, and Jon Gibson tunes.

12. Shane & ShanePsalms

Passionate and largely acoustic-based worship from this duo that I’ve long loved. Lyrics ripped straight from the Scriptures and Shane Barnard’s signature stutter strum are a nice change of pace in a genre that began to lack diversity just a few short years after this.

11. Rock N’ Roll Worship CircusWelcome to the Rock N’ Roll Worship Circus

At the time of its releasing it would have been very unlike anything else in CCM. I missed it at the time and so it doesn’t crack the top 10. It definitely impressed some fellow music nerds at Jesusfreakhideout though: https://www.jesusfreakhideout.com/features/staffpicks2002.asp

10. 38th ParallelTurn the Tides

Yes…It’s the nu-metal rap hybrid that Linkin Park did best…however, the harmonies set it apart in my mind. It makes this album more “other” and worthy of top 10 status. Fight me.

9. Big Daddy WeaveOne & Only

It’s radio-ready pop/rock, but wait…saxophone? Okay—-I’m about it. “Audience of One” and “In Christ” are two favorites among many. Oh, and “Neighborhoods” too. Just go listen! 😂

8. Jeremy CampStay

From the ashes of tragedy Camp wrote this, his best overall album IMO. I really wish he’d have done more songs in the vein of rocker “Take My Life” but alas, he did not.

7. GritsArt of Translation

A solid hip-hop album from front to back “Here We Go” and “Ooh Ahh” were college era staples for me with lots of great memories attached.

6. Out of EdenThis is Your Life

TIYL is a close third to their 1994 debut and 1999 album No Turning Back as my overall favorite Out of Eden record—it has so many excellent songs. “Different Now” is brassy and sassy, just how I like it.

5. BlindsideSilence

One of only a handful of harder albums I Like from beginning to end, this being post-hardcore variety. There’s occasional screaming but plenty of melody, which is key for this listener. “Caught a Glimpse” and “Pitiful” are tops.

4. LifehouseStanley Climbfall

Perhaps technically not a Christian album per se, this quality follow/up to No Face Face is still Top 3 for me among their discography. “Take Me Away” is a favorite, “Sky is Falling” “Wash” and “Spin” are the ones I return to most.

Here’s another Lifehouse post you might enjoy: Ranking Lifehouse: Albums & Songs

3. NewsboysThrive

This was almost #2 it’s that good. Easily my favorite non-90s Newsboys album, this one had a good mix of the quirky pop/rock and a few worshipful tunes like “It is You” and “Lord, I Don’t Know.”

2. Sixpence None the RicherDivine Discontent

I vacillate as to whether this is my #2 or #3 favorite Sixpence album overall, but suffice to say it’s top-notch either way. It could easily have been #1 on this list if my all-time favorite band hadn’t released a faith-shaping gem the same year. So many great and beautiful songs here—“Breathe Your Name,” “Down and Out of Time,” “Melody of You,” and the oh-so-great closer “A Million Parachutes” chief among them.

More Sixpence related content here: Every Sixpence None the Richer Song Ranked, Mixtape Monday: Sixpence None the Richer, Ranking Sixpence None The Richer

1. Jars of Clay The Eleventh Hour

Ahh…such great memories of learning to decipher and appreciate poetic and deep lyricism. This album was a treasure to me as it coincided with my college years and helped open my mind to the benefit of doubt, the appropriateness of questions, and the fact that it was okay to ask a question and not necessarily answer it in the same song, if at all. “Something Beautiful” “I Need You” “Silence” the title track and “The Edge of Water” are all very important songs to me. Great band. Great album.

More Jars content if you want a rabbit hole to run down: Every Jars of Clay Song Ranked, The Eleventh Hour By Jars Of Clay, 24 Essential Jars of Clay Songs

There it is! What we’re your favorites from 2002?! Hit me up in the comments!

Here’s the playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6mpluclR7IopaxJQBnfUEj?si=7M-7Ypo1TlW0Hhm7no0Nug

Happy listening! – Josh

Honorable mentions:

The Elms – Truth, Soul, Rock n’ Roll

Kirk Franklin – The Rebirth of Kirk Franklin

Kutless – Self-Titled

Pillar – Fireproof

Living Sacrifice – Conceived in Fire

Bleach – Again for the First Time

John Reuben – Hindsight

Project 86 – Truthless Heroes

David Crowder Band – Can You Hear Us?

Demon Hunter – Self-Titled

Chris Tomlin – Not to Us

MercyMe – Spoken For

Sanctus Real – Say It Loud

Rebecca St James – Worship God

Bebo Norman – Great Light of the World

Mewithoutyou – A to B Life

Dead Poetic – Four Wall Blackmail